How govt arrived at 5% commission of recovered loot for whistleblowers — Kemi Adeosun

The Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved the Ministry of Finance Whistle-blowing Programme that would reward individuals who give government genuine information on stolen or concealed funds. They would receive between 2.5 percent and five per cent of the funds when recovered.

The programme is to encourage anyone with information about a violation, misconduct or improper activity that impacts negatively on Nigerians and government to report such via a secured online portal, by e-mail or by phone.

It also has protection from false or malicious claims, warning that any false or misleading information, would be referred to the enforcement agents for investigation and possible prosecution.

Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed; his counterparts in Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun; and Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), briefed State House correspondents at the end of the meeting chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari.

“If there is a voluntary return of stolen or concealed public funds or assets on the account of the information provided, the whistleblower may be entitled to anywhere between 2.5 per cent (minimum) and 5.0 per cent (maximum) of the total amount recovered.

“You must have provided the government with information it does not already have and could not otherwise obtain from any other publicly available source to the government.” She described the programme as a stop gap policy pending when the National Assembly would pass into law the whistleblowing Bill.

Adeosun also said, “if you have already submitted your information, you can also check the status of your report on the portal.”

The minister said the type of information expected include Mismanagement or misappropriation of public funds and assets (e.g. properties and vehicles), financial malpractice or fraud, collecting/soliciting bribes, corruption, diversion of revenues, fraudulent and unapproved payments, Splitting of contracts and procurement fraud (kickbacks and over-invoicing etc.)

Adeosun said the whistleblowing does not apply to personal matters concerning private contracts or agreements, adding that the whistleblower can be internal stakeholders like government employees; inter-government stakeholders like government agencies, institutional stakeholders as well as all members of the public.

The minister also said whistle-blowers may chose to remain anonymous, but documentary evidence must be submitted on the portal.

“You can also provide specific and fact-based information, such as what occurred, amount involved, who was involved and dates of occurrence on the portal.”

The minister said should the whistle-blower choose to disclose his or her identity, it will be fully protected, adding that if the whistle-blower has suffered harassment, intimidation or victimisation “for sharing your concerns, restitution will be made for any loss suffered.”

She said information provided would be reviewed and analysed to determine whether or not to open an investigation on the matter.

According to her, if it is a criminal case, “it will be referred to the relevant agencies such as; Police, Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) or Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).”

On financial reward, she said, “If there is a voluntary return of stolen or concealed public funds or assets on the account of the information provided, the whistleblower may be entitled to anywhere between 2.5 per cent (minimum) and 5.0 per cent (maximum) of the total amount recovered.

“You must have provided the government with information it does not already have and could not otherwise obtain from any other publicly available source to the Government.

“Is there protection from false or malicious claims? Yes. A first level review will always be carried out to determine credibility and sufficiency of information received.

“If you report false or misleading information, it will be referred to the enforcement agents for investigation and possible prosecution.”

Mohammed said, aside the immediate acknowledgment that the whistle-blower will receive on submitting the information, the person would wait for 10 working days for the ministry to confirm violation or potential violation.

“If an investigation is opened, the nature and complexity of the matters under investigation will dictate the time frame.

“You can always independently monitor the status or progress report with code generated.”

On the purpose or expected outcome of the programme, Adeosun said: it will increase exposure of financial or financial related crimes; support the fight against financial crimes and corruption; improved level of public confidence in public entities; enhance transparency and accountability in the management of public funds; improve Nigeria’s open government ranking and ease of doing Business Indicators; and Recovery of public funds that can be deployed to finance Nigeria’s infrastructure deficit.”

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